New snow leopard research in Russia

February 22, 2010

Tuvan family in traditional clothing. Photo Wikipedia.

During February-March of 2010 the staff of the biosphere nature reserves “Sayano-Shushenskiy” and “Ubsunurskaya kotlovina” will be carrying out a census of the snow leopard  in the south of the Republic of Tuva, a tiny area in far south Siberia, with just over 300,000 people and remote mountains. They will be supported by the WWF Russia. Snow leopards are called irbis in Russia.

“In the process of the field observations, information will be collected about poaching activities regarding this species, and also about cases of irbis attacks on livestock. Recommendations about protection of irbis in these centers of their range will be worked out on the basis of the results of field research,” – explained the co-ordinator of the project WWF, Mikhail Paltsin. More on this project here.

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Russian borscht recipe…Russia is also home to snow leopards

January 6, 2010

The Borscht I made today. A very easy recipe and the soup is delicious.

Late last year when this blog celebrated its first birthday I said I’d cook a recipe from every country that has snow leopards (12 of them.) So far I’ve posted a Mongolian recipe – Buuz, a savoury pastry filled with meat and Tibetan Khapseys – a  Tibetan New Year bread like donut.

Russia is another country with snow leopards, current estimates around 100 cats although this number has not been confirmed for some years. The southwestern Siberian Republic of Altai has prime snow leopard habitat although poaching unfortunately is still happening with helicopters being used for illegal shooting of the cats and their prey, the big Argali. See story here.

But to get back to the recipe…..there are more Borscht recipes than there are Russian grandmothers and naturally everyone believes theirs to be the best. This one is a very simple one, evolved from one of my German grandmothers who made some great soups. Like most Borscht it can be eaten either hot or cold, although I prefer hot, the flavour being more tangy. I also like the fact that most of the vegetable in this recipe is beet, a flavour I really like and don’t get to eat too often.

You can adapt this simple recipe with other vegetables depending on what you have in your kitchen at the time. As well as Russia there are many other countries that have Borscht including Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Romania.

6-8 beetroots, cut small and cubed
oil for braising (I use olive)
1 sliced onion
½ litre stock (you can use beef but I prefer chicken – homemade is always best but sometimes bought stock is more practical)
Handfull of chopped cabbage
2 carrots, sliced finely (optional)
2 potatoes sliced and cubed (optional)
1 diced tomato (optional)
Salt and pepper, sour cream and parsley

Braise sliced onions in oil and add cubed beetroots and chopped cabbage, braise for a few minutes. Add stock and turn up heat until boiling.If you have any optional vegetables add them now. Turn heat down and simmer for 45 mins. Add salt and pepper to taste. When cooked through you can serve with a big dollop of sour cream and sprinkle parsley on top. Eat with crusty baguette or to be authentically Russian a big piece of black sourdough or Pumpernickel!

Optional. When all ingredients are cooked and before you add the sour cream you can puree the soup with a blender. I like to do this as it makes it thick and creamy. Bon Appetit J


Mistaken identity – Putin not releasing snow leopards

October 3, 2009
 
Persian leopard about to be released into a reserve near Sochin, Russia as PM Vladimir Putin looks on. Photo by AP, Alexei Druzhinin.
Persian leopard about to be released into a reserve near Sochin, Russia as PM Vladimir Putin looks on. Photo by AP, Alexei Druzhinin.

There’s been a lot of confused stories recently about Russian PM Vladimir Putin releasing snow leopards into a wildlife reserve as part of the promises in the lead up to the 2014 winter olympics. The animals are actually NOT snow leopards but Persian leopards. Recent media reports said that Putin released two snow leopards imported from Turkmenistan into the reserve near Sochi where the Winter Olympics will be held. This picture from AP wires clearly shows the beautiful cat is not a snow leopard. We wish the beautiful cats a good life in this reserve and the plan is to breed them and release any offspring into the wild, a very optimistic undertaking. I’m not sure if this has been done before. Certainly it’s never been possible to do it with snow leopards before but who knows, perhaps some day?